Is It OK To Record Two People on Separate Audio Tracks For My Podcast?

podcast recording Jun 23, 2020

Today, we're talking about multi tracking and whether or not it is more beneficial to ,you as the podcaster or an editor in the long run. In today's post, I want to share with you a couple of philosophies on whether multi-tracking will be better for you in the long run.

First, we run into this situation when a podcaster wants to record a podcaster with softwares and hardwares that perform the function of recording different audio inputs as isolated audio tracks. For example, the Zoom H6 field recorder will allow you to record yourself and your guest as separate audio tracks, pull them from an SD card , transfer those files over to your computer, then export them into your digital audio workstation (DAW). Then you would have to match up the audio in a multitrack system and edit from there.

You can also do the same exact thing with the Zoom video conferencing software or even Zencastr.

I don't know where the idea came from where podcasters said they have to absolutely record two individual audio tracks. In fact, this is a foreign concept to me because that's not how I learned in my 20+ years in radio. In fact, it's not exactly what we are doing at the radio station. When it comes down to isolating tracks, we only do it in one particular instance and that's with phone calls.

Let me share with you some philosophies on when it's a good time to use multitrack recording.

REMOVING UNNECESSARY SOUNDS

With hardware and software like the Zoom H6 or Zoom video conferencing, you have the ability to not only host the audio, but it gives you the ability to really manipulate the audio itself. Within multi-tracking you can add some compressions, filters, equalizations and gains. At the end of the day, it's going to take you a long time to really go through that audio to refine the sound you're looking for.

PROS OF MULTI-TRACKING VOICES

If you're very particular about your podcast sound let me go through some of the pros of whether or not this is good.

PRO: You are capturing the best audio you're able to process it in post-production.

PRO: You're going to be able to edit out unwanted sounds. You can edit out the sounds of a crying child in the background from one of your guests. Or maybe one of your guests lives near the train tracks and you hear a train pass by every 5 minutes--you can remove that sound within reason.

You could definitely go into those individual tracks and you can take out pieces of audio that distract from the final product.

CONS: You're going to be spending far more time editing out the unwanted sounds than focusing on the delivering quality content.

My philosophy is that you should be focusing on the content and the value you provide to your listeners.

Let's just put it in real terms:

Most of us who are podcasters are recording in a bedroom or office. Perhaps there's a pool party happening outside or you can hear a dog barking in the background. These are just sounds that exist in the environment that you are in.

The exception I have to this rule is if you are recording a storytelling podcast. Because it's in storytelling format, probably should be recording in a sound booth where you're going to be acting scripts and are clear of unwanted sounds.

As a heads up: if you are going to be using this multitrack philosophy, you're also going to be getting more files and sometimes those files don't sync up in the actual multitrack system for unknown reasons.

PREPARE THE SOUND FOR YOUR SHOW AHEAD OF TIME

If you are preparing the sound output ahead of time (checking microphone levels and guest microphone levels), you're saving VALUABLE time when you take the podcast into post-production. In other words, you will have one single file that has been mixed down with all the audio in place and you'll be spending far less time haggling with multitrack functions.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EDITING PODCASTS

I recommend that you always have one mixdown file from the Zoom device and software as the final product so that you can go in and edit much faster. At the end of the day, you want your microphone to sound the best.

When I teach my training course, Design A Podcast, I teach my students to NOT record in multitrack and to just record one track that already has voices mixed in. Remember, I come from a radio background, so everything that I record is in real time. When I'm talking on YouTube, I'm really riffing off of everything that I want to say within reason. You have to keep in mind that I have notes written for what I want to say and utilize bullet points to try to convey my message.

PODCAST RECORDINGS CAN BE IMPERFECT

Why does your podcast have to be perfect? Actually, it doesn't. When you think about how we live our lives, most of our conversations are imperfect. We stammer and stutter all over the place and we are still able to convey our message. Creating the "perfect" podcast is placing a standard on yourself that you haven't even reached yet. That standard is by getting comfortable with presenting information regularly through practice.

When you look at the Joe Rogan podcast, do you think his podcast is perfect? In fact, when you watch his entire podcast on YouTube there are discrepancies and mistakes. And most of the time his podcast recordings are all recorded in real time. There really isn't much editing going on other than someone doing live switching.

So it's just something to think about when you're trying to create the perfect podcast.

Spoken word is imperfect.

Radio is imperfect.

Podcasting can be imperfect.

Imperfection is what gives your program the personality that people will start to really be drawn to. When you listen to someone who's on the radio or listen to a podcast and you are drawn by how well they present themselves over the microphone, you think, "I want to do it just like them!"

What you have to remember is that these people done it for quite some time and practiced their craft from doing it week in and week out. They have perfected the art of presenting in front of a microphone or camera. These individuals have built the confidence to make their presentation their own--with imperfections.

One presenter's imperfection can be viewed as another person's perfection. It's important to get out of your head on what podcasters and podcast producers think you should sound like. The best thing you can do is to just be you. Be natural. Be the personality that you were born into so that shines through the microphone. People can be drawn to your personality if you are just being you.

As you continue to create your own podcasts, your performance skills are going to get really good. In fact, you'll get so good that you won't have to spend as much time in the editing software.

To come full circle, you won't need to record in multitrack because you will have honed in your sound, your guest's sound and your performance so well that you will only need that one full mix from your Zoom recorder.

This is all going to be about the personal philosophy and whether you want to become a better presenter or want to be a master editor. Don't get me wrong, your sound should be great, but a lot of the sound can be fixed on physical side with microphones and mixing boards. If you have your sound dialed in, you will only need to make minor tweaks in your final editing pass.

I get really passionate about this topic because I think podcasters overthink the recording process. Personally, I like record and deliver the best content so I can start building an audience.

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